What you have and haven't been told about what happened in Flint: For the record, we're pretty much never happy to hear that people have gotten in trouble.
We don't root for people to be harmed. We leave that to our massively overpaid, corporate "cable news" stars.
That said, the first criminal charges have now been filed concerning events in Flint. As we read about these charges, we thought about what you have and haven't heard about what happened in Flint.
For ourselves, we don't know what happened in Flint. In large part, we don't know what happened in Flint because we've watched the pseudo-reporting of cable's own Rachel Maddow.
Because we don't know what happened, we don't know if these charges are justified. That said, this is from Monica Davey's initial report for the New York Times:
DAVEY (4/20/16): The first criminal charges stemming from the Flint, Mich., water crisis were filed on Wednesday, as two state officials and a city employee were accused of offenses including covering up evidence of lead contamination.Those charges could be justified—or it could be a big cover-up! We'll only say this:
Michael Prysby, a district engineer with the state Department of Environmental Quality; Stephen Busch, a district supervisor in the same department; and Michael Glasgow, the city’s utilities manager, face a mix of felony and misdemeanor charges. The charges are linked both to the handling of a change in the city’s water supply in 2014 and to months of official denials that the change had led to a dangerous level of lead flowing into residents’ homes.
The charges were brought by the state attorney general, Bill Schuette, and authorized by Judge Tracy Collier-Nix of Genesee District Court. They were announced at a news conference in Flint on Wednesday.
When we read about those charges, we thought about Professor Marc Edwards' congressional testimony back on February 3. We also thought this:
If you get your news from Rachel Maddow, you don't know what Professor Edwards testified to that House committee. Questioned by Reps. Cummings and Chaffetz, he explained who he thought was mainly to blame.
It started with some state environmental officials, he said. A cover-up followed from there:
CUMMINGS (2/3/16): I want you to be clear, and I'll say it 50 million times and I mean it. I want the EPA to be held responsible for addressing the things that they're supposed to address. But it seems—Edwards' impressions could be wrong. But his main impression was this:
Help me with this, OK, because I'm just listening to you. You don't seem to put too much blame on the state. Why is that? Or am I missing something?...
EDWARDS: My perspective on this is the fact that these are the agencies paid to protect us, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and Susan Hedman at EPA is the top environmental cop in the region.
I have said repeatedly that the primary blame for this rests with a few people at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, without question. But in terms of other people in the state, those core professionals misled them throughout this whole thing. [Former mayor] Walling in Flint, for example, reached out after reading Miguel's memo, as a considerate mayor would, to Susan Hedman [of the EPA]. Said, "Is this something I should take seriously?"
And she told him, the top environmental policeman in the region told him, "I am sorry this memo ever took place and I'll get back to you after I edit and vet it." So I—
One hundred percent of the responsibility lies with these employees at MDEQ, there's no question. But the EPA had the chance, because of Miguel Del Toro, to be the hero here and Ms. Hedman snatched defeat for EPA from the jaws of victory by discrediting his memo and standing by silently as she knew that federal law was not protecting Flint's children.
CHAFFETZ: I just to follow up on what Mr. Cummings was talking about, Mr. Edwards.
These people at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, do you feel that they were misleading people? Were they providing false information? What were they doing? And who were they doing it to?
EDWARDS: I think it probably started innocently. I think someone forgot to follow the law [about corrosion control], but they ignored warning sign after warning sign...And gradually, step by step, they just felt like they were covering this up. There's no question about it.
You read the e-mails. They were—
They lied in writing to the EPA, and it was only after [Flint parent LeeAnne Walters] figured out that they were not using corrosion control that they started this new story that we don't know if we have to have corrosion control. So I think the written record is quite clear on this.
CHAFFETZ: They were telling that to the EPA. What about to the governor's office and other state officials?
EDWARDS: It's very clear to me that they misled the epidemiologists who were looking at that. The very first thing that they did was to reach out to these MDEQ employees and say, "Is there something wrong with the water?" And the talking points, the notes from that memo used by the epidemiologists, basically repeated one lie after another after another about the actual situation in Flint.
And when you're a scientist and you have been misled so fundamentally by someone in a position of trust, that skews your interpretation. So I have criticized what the Health Department did, and the fact that they never told the governor about the spike in elevated lead that was occurring. And I have, I have talked about their unethical behavior in the month of September, when they refused to share data with me and Dr. Mona about the lead poisoned children. But you have to—
When you look at the ethics of this, you have to look at what they were told and put yourself in their position and I fault them, but the blame lies with these three or four employees who were actively misleading everyone.
The whole thing started as a mistake by a handful of state environmental officials. Once they realized that they'd bungled badly, they began lying to cover up their blunders.
He said they lied to the EPA and to Governor Snyder's staff. That may not be what happened here, but it seems to fall in line with today's criminal charges. (Edwards was also very critical of the EPA's Susan Hedman.)
Professor Edwards' impressions could always be wrong. That said, you've never been told about his testimony if you watch Rachel Maddow.
Everyone regards Edwards as one of the heroes of this matter, and as the leading expert who got involved in this mess. Why has Maddow kept you from hearing what Edwards said at two House hearings?
We can't answer that question. A cynic would say the answer is obvious:
Maddow has always treated this story as a cartoon in which Snyder, one of her (many) favorite demons, has been cartoonishly demonized. According to Professor Edwards, the principal demons were elsewhere.
Professor Edwards could be wrong, but Maddow has kept you from hearing his views. Simply put, Maddow shouldn't be on the air. She simply seems to be too unbalanced for the important role she's been given.
Judging from her downward spiral, the wealth and the fame haven't helped. As in The Emperor's New Clothes, no one can see her horrible work for what it so plainly is.